Construction and Engineering – Jobs and Careers in the Middle East

There are so many questions to ask when seeking work or a career in construction in the Middle East. This article is focused on Living and working in the Middle East for British Citizens.

Stafford Lawrence Ltd works with a number of well-known construction consultancy and engineering clients and provide jobs and careers for candidates in Quantity Surveying / Commercial Management, Project Management and Engineering (Architectural, Civil, Structural, Electrical and Mechanical) professions. Candidates seeking jobs or careers in the Middle East. Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Saudi, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman.

This blog briefly covers salaries in the middle east, visas, age limits, and holiday allowances. We also briefly cover the differences between Dubai, Saudi, Qatar Oman and Bahrain.

The following is just a little information gleaned over 20+ years working for clients and with candidates recruiting them for jobs and careers in the Middle East.

If you are seeking International jobs and careers in the USA New Zealand or anywhere else in the world, visit our International jobs page for all our other Overseas Cost Quantity Surveying and Commercial Management vacancies.

Salaries for Commercial Managers and Quantity Surveyors 

Salaries for Quantity Surveyors or Cost Consultants in the Middle East – That depends on the position and the level. Stafford Lawrence tend to work with global organisations, that have a UK /European or US arm.  Our clients are aware, that you pay tax and pay for your own accommodation and sometimes transport when living and working in the United Kingdom.

It is likely you will want to earn a lot more money for working overseas, but don’t be greedy and price yourself out of the market. Yes, you can earn a good tax-free salary, but you need to be realistic. You might have to take a step back, to take a step forward. Remember there are highly qualified candidates from across the globe applying for middle east jobs and careers. You are competing with a larger group of highly qualified people. There is much to learn and you might not be able to hit the ground running considering the differing contracts in the Middle East.

When we talk to anyone interested in living and working the Middle East, we ascertain if it is viable for UK candidates to go to the Middle East. Occasionally, we will advise candidates that it won’t be financially viable, especially candidates with families, as the cost of living and schooling in the Middle East is high. The demand for Middle East roles is high and the salaries in recent years have come down, due to a drop in projects.

Salaries and packages in the Middle East -Quantity Surveyors Commercial Managers Project Managers and Engineers

  • We aim to get some of your current salary tax-free, plus accommodation and transport allowances.
  • Medical Cover is provided on top of your package.
  • Our clients provide a mobilisation and demobilisation flight (any additional flights will come out of your transport allowance).
  • Your salary in the Middle East is paid as a monthly amount. This covers your basic salary, transport and accommodation allowance.
  • All the companies that we work for will also pay for all visa costs and assist you in obtaining a visa.
  • Bonus as Per the Law in each country- This is usually a percentage of your basic monthly salary
  • Mobilisation and demobilisation flights.
  • Medical Cover is provided for all Middle East roles
  • For more information on Quantity Surveyor salaries for the middle east or Commercial Manager salaries for the middle east, please email our admin team who can set up a call to talk you through this

Adverts for Middle East Jobs and Careers- Salaries

  • When recruiters advertise job vacancies for the Middle East, the figure advertised is usually a monthly amount in local currency and this will be the ALL IN amount or Total Package (salary, accommodation and transport) Unless otherwise stated on the job vacancy. Medical Cover is provided on top, plus an end-of-service bonus or yearly bonus, which is a percentage 1-month salary for every year served. Some companies may offer additional bonuses. So to work it out the basic salary is usually 60% of the total package advertised.
  • We are advertising some job vacancies in Saudi that provide accommodation on top of the basic rather than an accommodation allowance, which is a bonus as prices are rising for accommodation, especially in Saudi Arabia. We also have some remote roles that provide hotel accommodation food and laundry.
  • Remember, competition for job roles and careers in the Middle East is very high, you are competing with the best and most qualified candidates from across the globe. We often advise our candidates on a suggested salary for Middle East roles.
  • It is in our interest to get you the very best salary we can as we charge a fee to our clients based on your basic salary, but at the same time we need to ensure and advise that you don’t price yourself out of the market.

Pensions in the Middle East

Do they provide Pensions in the Middle East?

In many middle east countries, a pension scheme is not provided. Pensions are not part of your package for a Middle East role. Stafford Lawrence Ltd cannot provide financial advice on pension schemes, but we do advise that you ensure that you have a provision for your retirement. You may be enjoying a high salary as an ex-pat, and reap the rewards of living and working in the Middle East, but everyone retires at some point. Advice on how to ensure you have an adequate pension as an ex-pat is available on the internet. Please read below on retirement ages in the middle east as these have changed recently.

Dubai Vs Qatar salary and Dubai vs Saudi Salary

In recent months and because of the worldwide pandemic and reduced projects coupled with Dubai being the preferred choice for many candidates, salaries in Dubai have seen a significant reduction. Competition for roles is high, clients can pick and choose their candidates. Salaries in Qatar for Quantity Surveyors and Commercial Managers are higher than in Dubai, but the cost of living in Qatar is also slightly higher. With so much competition for Dubai roles, Qatar or Bahrain is the next choice followed by Saudi Arabia. Salaries in Saudi Arabia for Quantity Surveyors and commercial managers tend to be higher than in Qatar, however, salaries in Saudi have also seen a reduction, because of candidates becoming available from Oman and Dubai where projects are slowing.

Middle East Recruitment. Which country is best for me? 

Dubai is the most popular for families but salaries have come down considerably over recent years, there are fewer projects and more candidates, so, a lot of competition for roles, but you can still earn a good tax-free salary. Unmarried couples can now live and work in Dubai, BUT due to the law, it is still illegal to live as an unmarried couple in Saudi Oman Kuwait and Qatar, more information can be found on the internet.

Saudi currently has lots of projects Hotels and Resorts and Theme Parks, Saudi Arabia or KSA ( Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) is more restrictive than other parts of the Middle East but has improved considerably over recent years, women are now allowed to drive and are welcomed in construction roles. In terms of salary it’s on a par with Qatar, possibly slightly more.

Jobs and Careers for Women in Construction and Engineering in the Middle East

Over the last 20 years we have recruited into Dubai and Qatar into construction and engineering roles. There are a number of women in construction at all levels across the industry.

Saudi Arabia KSA is actively encouraging women in the Construction and Engineering sectors in Saudi Arabia -KSA. Stafford Lawrence Ltd has recently placed a number of women into a variety of roles in the Kingdom and also in remote locations.

Accommodation in the Middle East. Will they provide me with Accommodation?

  • No. In general, clients will provide you with an accommodation allowance every month( see salary information) which is part of your monthly total package salary.
  • Some remote location roles provide you with hotel accommodation and food.
  • You can look at accommodation and costs on the internet, but our advice is to wait till you get over there.
  • There are plenty of ex-pats working for the company you join, who will be able to provide the name of a good rental agent, or maybe if you don’t want your own accommodation you can rent a room.
  • Most companies will provide hotel accommodation for the first few weeks/ month. Most clients will put you up in a hotel for a few weeks when you arrive, you must then source accommodation in that period and its much easier and cheaper to do it when you are ‘on the ground’
  • Accommodation in Saudi is slightly different and is provided on a compound.

What position can I expect? “I’m a Senior Quantity Surveyor and I want an Associate Director role”.

Candidates without previous experience in the Middle East may be offered a role title similar to the one they currently have.

It would be difficult to suggest that you could ‘hit the ground running’ without previous middle east experience. OK, you might be very smart, but there will be different ways of working, different contracts, FIDIC. We suggest you learn to walk for the first 3-6 months, gain experience, complete probation, and then start chasing titles. You might have to take a step back to take a step forward and try not to be hung up on a title.

Can I take my girlfriend/ boyfriend with me to work in the Middle East?

Due to new laws in Dubai, you can now go to Dubai as an unmarried couple. You cannot currently go to Saudi as an unmarried couple and we would not recommend it in Qatar. Although you might have heard there are couples who do. You are working in a Muslim country and you must respect the laws. All our clients adhere to these laws very strictly, failure to do so would impact their business and therefore we do not advise that you do this.

Is there a beach?

Yes, would you believe it! We are asked this question a lot. The reply is always the same “ Do you have a beach in your current role in Stoke/ Manchester/ London etc”. Alas, we are not a travel agency, this is a job…. There are beaches, but we are not selling a holiday here and there’s plenty of sand. Remember, you are seeking a job or career, to WORK in the Middle East….

Age limits.

Is there an age limit to work in the Middle East

Sometimes, because of the nature of the work, clients ask us to find candidates under a certain age. It is difficult to get a visa over the age of 55 or 60 particularly in Saudi. There are ways around this if the client is keen to have you on board. There are UK nationals working in the Middle East that we know of who are well over 70. Currently, the retirement age for expatriates in Saudi Qatar and Dubai is 60. It is becoming increasingly difficult for organisations to provide visas after the age of 60.

I have a criminal conviction, will I still be able to go to the Middle East?

Part of the visa paperwork requires a Police Clearance Check. If you have a criminal conviction, you will unlikely be able to obtain a visa. You can make a plea to have certain minor convictions removed from your UK record.

Required Qualifications.

What qualifications do I need for a job in Dubai, Saudi, Bahrain Oman Kuwait or Qatar?

That depends on the role. We work with Project Managers Engineers and Cost and Commercial professionals for positions from Assistant to Board Level in the Middle East. When clients approach a recruiter, it is usually for a candidate that they can’t find themselves. Roles that we recruit for in the Middle East require a minimum of a Degree Qualification and sometimes Chartered Status. MRICS MAPM MCIOB CEng PEng. Some companies and countries ask for a Full-time degree qualification rather than a part-time degree qualification. In certain instances, some clients ask for a 4-year degree rather than a 3-year degree.

Getting a work Visa, Residents Visa or Iqama

How long does it take to get a work visa for the Middle East?

When you have an offer for the middle east, you have to start the process of obtaining a visa. The timescale is currently 1-3 months dependent upon location. Some clients have a quicker process than others, they have a team to help you. So you won’t have to do this alone.

In most countries, you have to have a work visa or Iqama ( Saudi) or Residents Visa in order to open a bank account in the Middle East. Life would be difficult without one.

The following are required

  • Attestation of your qualifications. Your qualifications/ marriage certificates belong to you, the cost of attesting them is sometimes down to the candidate. But some clients do pay for this.
  • A police clearance check.
  • A medical examination
  • Vaccinations  (Please check the internet for current rules and guidelines on vaccinations)
  • The client pays all visa fees and medical

What projects will I be working on in the Middle East?

That depends on your experience. If you are a Buildings Specialist- Hotels, Resorts, Mixed Use, Commercial, Leisure and Entertainment projects. If you are a civils professional there are Roads and Highways, Bridges and Dams or Rail projects. There are so many great projects to work on in the Middle East. If you have Entertainment venues or Hotel experience your skills will be highly regarded currently in Saudi.

What is the holiday allowance in the Middle East?

Holiday Allowances differ slightly from country to country. For example, you can expect 25 days plus 10 National days in Saudi. You can check national days for each county on the internet. There are also a number of religious holidays throughout the year.

Middle East Recruitment. How do I apply for jobs and careers in the Middle East?

Many candidates prefer to work through a recruiter to apply for jobs and vacancies in the Middle East. Other candidates prefer to apply directly or to send their CV via a contact they already know.

The benefit of working through Stafford Lawrence Ltd

  1. We ensure that we receive feedback for all our candidates, whether this is positive or negative.
  2. We can put you forward for a number of roles with a variety of clients, with your permission.
  3. We work with you to secure a role and assist with paperwork and any further queries you might have.
  4. We only present your CV to clients with Live current and urgent vacancies. This ensures your CV is not floating around and is not sent anywhere you would not wish it to go.
  5. We can submit your CV to clients and if you are not successful the first time we can continue to submit your CV to new roles as they come through to us.

Terms and Conditions – Stafford Lawrence Middle East Recruitment

If you have already applied directly or via another recruiter to our clients within the last 6-12 months it is deemed you are already on their system. We therefore cannot resubmit your CV, even if it is a new role. This also applies to gathering feedback. Over the years we have been asked to gather feedback for candidates who have applied via a friend or through another recruiter. Unfortunately, we cannot gather feedback as GDPR prevents disclosure. So, if you are going to apply through that friend…. make sure that they are sending your CV to the right person and that you will get feedback.

Quantity Surveyor jobs in the Middle East

Cost Consultant jobs in the Middle East

Commercial Manager jobs in the Middle East

MRICS Quantity Surveyor jobs in the Middle East Saudi

QS Jobs in the Middle East – Saudi, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Dubai, Abu Dhabi

Get in touch with us about jobs and careers and living and working overseas

Every country has slightly different requirements,  we have only covered the basics here. If you are keen on living and working in the Middle East, please get in contact.

We have a number of Middle East vacancies. Please visit our International jobs page. Each job provides a detailed list of requirements, an email to apply to, and a reference number for that role.

You can email if you have any questions about any of our roles on our website.

Quantity Surveyor jobs in the Middle East- Middle East Recruitment

All our UK Middle East and International roles are on our website. Or follow us for up-to-date roles and information on our Stafford Lawrence Ltd Linkedin company page.

We will be writing similar articles for U.K Candidates who wish to work in the US, Canada and Australia

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